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Everyday Heroes: BEAR #56

December 1, 2011
Bear No. 56 by Mark Meier

Bear No. 56 (by Mark Meier)

Followers of my blog have responded positively to my stories about Everyday Heroes, people and organizations that have done something extraordinary — risking their lives to save others, helping others to recover from war wounds, etc. Whether it is Sgt. Leroy Petry, Antonio Diaz Chacon, SEAL Team 6, or Hope for Heroism, Everyday Heroes make a difference in other people’s lives. That is the reason I write about them.

But this month I take a different tack and hope the followers of this blog respond as favorably to this Everyday Hero as they have to previous ones. You see, this month’s Everyday Hero is neither a person nor an organization. She has not saved another person’s life, nor has she received commendations for valor. She doesn’t even have a name, just a number. But there is no question she is a hero in a very special way.

My Everyday Hero is a female black bear, tagged as Bear #56. This old girl, estimated to be 14 years old, was originally featured in the UpFront section of the November 4, 2011, edition of the Albuquerque Journal. Reporter Joline Gutierrez Krueger wrote eloquently about the trials and tribulations of this bear, chronicling her amazing journey, which included being tranquilized and relocated from the east side of Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains on four occasions; radio-collared (which she quickly disposed of); shot out of a tree with a tranquilizer rifle; moved 100 miles away to the Zuni Mountains on her fifth relocation; and recently spotted swimming with her cub on her back across Navajo Lake, 150 miles north of the Zuni Mountains. Bears are not supposed to travel the distances this bear has traveled, and they are not supposed to be able to survive as many encounters with man as she has had.

Ms. Krueger wrote a fascinating article about an amazing animal. But she also leaves her readers with something that is vastly more important. She uses Bear #56’s challenges and survival as a metaphor for our times. It is that which inspired me to blog about Bear #56 (click here to see the AP version of Ms. Krueger’s article; the Albuquerque Journal requires readers to jump through digital hoops to see its version.)

If an animal can show the sort of persistence and courage shown by Bear #56, why can’t we humans display the same persistence and courage? Instead of moaning about the world economy or political events or personal problems, perhaps we all can take a lesson from this bear. What she has done is nothing short of miraculous. I don’t ascribe to the belief that people have to perform miracles to be Everyday Heroes. However, you do have to accomplish something that is above and beyond “normal.” That’s what Everyday Heroes do: They go the extra mile.

God knows, Bear #56 has gone the extra mile over and over again.

Joseph Badal is the author of The Pythagorean Solution, Terror CellThe Nostradamus Secret and Evil Deeds.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron Chicaferro permalink
    December 2, 2011 8:22 am

    Bear 56 is one resilient bear! A good lesson for all of us!

  2. December 2, 2011 9:25 am

    Good choice, Joe. I like that you’ve shown us an animal can also be a hero. I’ve certainly encountered a number of such creatures, including the late, great, Comet the Greyhound, who I first met at a Hillerman Mystery Writers Conference in 2005.

    I saw the story of Bear #56 in the Journal article at the time it appeared. I, too, was impressed that this animal displayed more courage and determination than many of us human creatures faced with similar challenges. Let her be a roll model to learn from.

    • December 2, 2011 8:29 pm

      I like “roll” model. Kind of fits what Ms #56 has gone through in her tribulations. LI

  3. December 2, 2011 9:28 am

    I meant “role model”!!! (I’m red with embarrassment!)

  4. December 3, 2011 4:42 am

    Very heart lifting post, Joseph, thanks! It’s spot on today as I’m feeling inexplicably low (but I have unexpected mood swings – no doubt characteristic of writers!!)

    I also think this story points to the other aspect of one’s ability to go that extra mile: one needs to be single-mindedly focused on ONE objective, and one only. Your bear has her cub on her mind and on her back too! Having the cub is what decides everything for her, it dictates her every move. How easy life is for an animal! We’ve got so much to think about…too much!

  5. Robert Badal permalink
    December 4, 2011 6:32 pm

    Who has been more persistent–the bear or the idiots at wildlife services who keep relocating her? A happy ending here would be for the Journal to track down the dopes who are making these relocation decisions and have them admit defeat. By the way,has the bear signed up for mandatory ObamaCare–she may need it given the way she’s being harassed.

  6. December 14, 2011 11:25 am

    What a wonderful post! I’ve always loved bears, but I like them even more now. 🙂

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